Sometimes couples are not sure if they want a divorce and may decide to take a break, separating for a period of time to consider where they stand. A trial or informal separation – living apart for a short period – may be appropriate for couples who do not have children, are both self-supporting, and have maintained separate financial accounts. However, for those who are involved in a contentious relationship, or in cases where a spouse or children are financially dependent on the other spouse, it is in their best interests to pursue a legal separation.
A legal separation agreement can address many issues that are covered in a divorce agreement. A formal agreement can include how you and your spouse will handle parenting time and parenting responsibility during the separation or who will remain in the family home. An agreement can also address whether one spouse will receive spousal support or require one spouse to continue to carry the family on an insurance policy. Legal separation agreements can protect spouses financially by limiting liability from debts incurred by the other spouse during the separation and ensure that marital assets are protected while debts continue to get paid.
To prepare for an informal or legal separation it is important for couples to ask themselves the following questions:
- Will money remain in joint bank accounts and how will the couple share it? What about spending on joint credit cards? If there is a home equity line of credit, will it be hands off?
- Who will remain in the family home during the separation? Who will have use of other property such as an automobile?
- How will existing debts and expenses be paid?
- Will one spouse receive spousal support during the separation and how much?
- How will parenting time arrangements look? Will one spouse pay child support during the separation?
After asking these questions, many couples realize that a formal separation process may be in their best interest particularly if there are children involved or one spouse is financially dependent on the other, and in cases where there are debts or marital assets to consider. If you would like more information regarding a legal separation agreement or Illinois divorce, contact the Libertyville family law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for assistance at 847-680-4970.